Sunday, December 3, 2023


Save money when buying LED lighting for your RV

By Dave Helgeson

Conserving 12 volt power is one of the many fundamentals of becoming a seasoned boondocker. Replacing the incandescent lights in your RV with LED lights is a great start. It’s as easy as changing a light bulb, literally!

LED lights draw about one-tenth the amperage of the conventional RV bulbs while providing the same or in some cases more light. Many of you are probably already employing this power-saving technique. The real tip worth sharing is where to obtain LED lights while minimizing the pain to the pocketbook. Retail pricing on direct replacement LED bulbs from your local RV dealer or national camping chain can run $10 or more per bulb.

Looking at the distribution system, it is easy to see how a bulb gets so expensive. The bulb is made overseas, then shipped to the U.S. where it sits in a distribution warehouse before being sent to a lighting wholesaler, who then sells it to a RV parts distributor, who then sells it to a RV accessories retailer, who then sells it to you. With handling and profit being added each step along the way it’s no wonder they are pricey.

Skip all the steps and related costs stateside and go straight to the source, no traveling involved! Log onto eBay and order direct replacement bulbs for your RV direct from China. Once on eBay enter “LED 12 volt bulbs” along with the number of the bulb you are looking to replace and you will find pages of options to solve your lighting needs. Skipping over the high-price offerings (U.S. retailers) will bring you to countless Hong Kong sellers offering LED bulbs for a fraction of the cost.

If you are searching for more light than your original bulbs emitted, look for the circuit board type replacements that have 40 or more LEDs mounted on them. These beauties mount to the interior of the fixture using double-back tape and include various adapters allowing them to plug into the most common 12 volt light sockets. Mounting two of them in a common RV light fixture will have you reaching for your sunglasses!

Two additional tips when buying via eBay:
1) Find a seller with a 99% or higher “Positive Feedback.”
2) Plan ahead as your purchase will take 10 – 20 days to ship and clear customs. As a bonus, your package will arrive with colorful foreign postage stamps.

Note: Since this was written 6 years ago, Amazon has also begun carrying 12-volt LED bulbs for ceiling lights. A quick comparison between the national RV chain store and Amazon shows you can buy a two-pack of 1141 LED bulbs from the chain store at $21.99, or a 10-pack on Amazon for $13.49.

In addition many U.S. sellers now offer LED bulbs on eBay.

Install some LEDs prior to your next boondock outing — your batteries will thank you for the savings along with your pocketbook.


Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson has been around travel trailers his entire life. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership long before the term “RV” had been coined. He has served in every position of an RV dealership with the exception of bookkeeping. Dave served as President of a local chapter of the RVDA (Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association), was on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college and was a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. He and his wife Cheri operated their own RV dealership for many years and for the past 29 years have managed RV shows. Dave presents seminars at RV shows across the country and was referred to as "The foremost expert on boondocking" by the late Gary Bunzer, "The RV Doctor". Dave and his wife are currently on their fifth travel trailer with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications on his own unit.



5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Backlot Bob (@guest_9617)
6 years ago

Would love to make the switch to LED’s in my motorhome, but I really want the ability to dim the bulbs. Finding that 12 volt LED dimmable combination seems impossible.

Richard Trapp (@guest_9613)
6 years ago

I replaced all bulbs inside and out (break, tail, porch) no old school bulbs anymore. Also replace the old Colman A/C.. the coach draws so little now I have run it (a/c runnin with fridge, tv and electric water heater) off a standard 110 outlet. Led is a huge reduction on power draw. And yes this was purchased on ebay. Be for warned that there is no color standard for leds so some are very blue and some are warm yellow.. and anything in between. Buy all your needs from one seller that shows what color they are.

keira Bianchi (@guest_9591)
6 years ago

Have purchased bulbs this way for several years. Some don’t last very long, some start to blink, and some are dim. The ratings stated in the listing sometimes are not accurate. But, the ones that work are so inexpensive that it makes it worthwhile to replace the ones that start to flicker. I just buy a new set of 10 each year for about the price of one of the Camping World bulbs.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.